Every week in the Weekend Stream, we’ll give you pitches to add for spot starts who can help you chase down a category or two in head-to-head leagues. All of the pitchers we offer will fall under one of three headings. If a pitcher is a stream candidate in “shallow” leagues, it means he has an ownership rate between 35% and 50%. “Medium” translates to pitchers with ownership rates between 21% and 34%, while those under the “deep” heading are owned in 20% of leagues or less.
An endorsement for a pitcher in a shallow or medium league would also apply to the leagues beneath it, but those of you in deep leagues shouldn’t hold out hope that a pitcher with an ownership rate of 40% will be available.
Trevor Bauer, Indians (Saturday @ Diamondbacks)
Bauer faces his original organization in his 2017 debut, returning to Arizona for the first time since the team sent him to Cleveland before the 2013 season. Bauer had the best season of his career last year, pitching to a 4.26 ERA, 3.99 FIP and 1.31 WHIP with 168 strikeouts in 190 innings. This isn’t a great matchup for him, but he’s a decent option for shallow leaguers chasing a win.
Robert Gsellman, Mets (Saturday vs. Marlins)
Gsellman became a darling of the fantasy community this spring once it became clear he would make the Mets rotation. He threw 44 2/3 innings last year, amassing a 2.42 ERA, 2.63 FIP, 1.28 WHIP and 42 strikeouts against 15 non-intentional walks. Gsellman is one of those pitchers available in shallow leagues early in the season who could see his ownership rate double by May 1. There’s no question he has the stuff to be a fantasy weapon in all formats, and with Steven Matz on the shelf for the foreseeable future, Gsellman will have plenty of leash from Terry Collins. No matter what happens against the Marlins on Saturday, he’s worth keeping for a few turns through the rotation to see what he can do.
Jeremy Hellickson, Phillies (Sunday vs. Nationals)
Hellickson pitched around six hits and a walk in five innings in his 2017 debut, allowing one run in a win over the Reds. Hellickson isn’t a great option this weekend. This is more a desperation play for shallow leaguers. If you have nothing to lose in your rate categories, you can give Hellickson a spin to see if he can grab a few strikeouts, and maybe even a win. Still, understand that, not only is he facing the imposing Washington offense, but Stephen Strasburg will take the ball for the Nationals. Again, this is a recommended play only for owners with nothing to lose.
Edinson Volquez, Marlins (Sunday @ Mets)
It’s a bad weekend to stream pitchers for owners in medium-depth leagues, which basically translates to 12-team mixers with standard rosters. That shouldn’t come as a surprise, given that the first week of the season lines up for aces and other top-of-the-rotation pitchers to make two starts. Most pitchers taking the ball Saturday and Sunday this week are widely owned, and those that aren’t likely don’t register in anything but deep leagues. Volquez, however, is the exception. He threw five shutout innings against the Nationals in his season debut, striking out six while walking one. The Mets look like they’ll be an attractive stream opponent all season, and Volquez is the perfect pitcher to test that hypothesis.
Mike Foltynewicz, Braves (Saturday @ Pirates)
Foltynewicz had a nice spring, getting himself on the radar in most deep leagues. For our purposes in the Weekend Stream, deep leagues generally mean 14-team mixed leagues or deeper, with most NL–only leagues falling into the category, as well. Foltynewicz is owned in about two of every 10 leagues, which makes him a typical deep-league stream option, if he’s available. He does bring some strikeout upside that most deep-league streamers don’t have, with a career 8.0 K/9 in 228 2/3 innings.
Daniel Norris, Tigers (Sunday vs. Red Sox)
Norris is a deep-league pitcher to watch beyond this weekend. Now, as far as this weekend goes, you want to be careful with him. Some of the best pitchers in the league will struggle with the Red Sox this season, so any pitcher you can stream against them is a risky proposition. Still, Norris was quietly effective across 69 1/3 innings last year, totaling a 3.38 ERA, 3.92 FIP, 1.40 WHIP and 71 strikeouts against 22 walks. He’s in his age-24 season and was a top-20 prospect as recently as 2015. This could be deep leaguers last chance to get him for free. If he pitches well against the Red Sox this weekend, he’ll be one of the most popular pitchers on next week’s waiver wire in deep leagues.
Adalberto Mejia, Twins (Sunday @ White Sox)
Finally, those of you looking for a long-range shot will want to shift your gaze to Minnesota, where Mejia will make the first start of his career. The 23-year-old impressed in the minors last year, racking up a 3.00 ERA, 1.12 WHIP and 126 strikeouts in 132 innings, split almost right down the middle between the Double-A and Triple-A levels. If nothing else, Mejia has some identifiable upside and a cushy matchup with a White Sox team that isn’t going to strike much fear in the hearts of pitchers this season. Those of you chasing strikeouts and wins in deep leagues should feel free to give him a shot on Sunday.